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Hospice Sector Facing Collective Deficit Of £77m

Hospice UK today reveals alarming findings in their recent survey of hospice finances.

According to Hospice UK’s quarterly financial benchmarking survey, the UK hospice sector, which supports 300,000 people annually, is facing a collective estimated deficit of £77 million in the financial year 2023-24.

Expenditure increases are the main driver behind this crisis. Hospices care for people at the most vulnerable time of their lives, providing support and comfort to dying people and their families. Yet the cost of this is increasing, with the cost of paying staff a fair wage growing quickly.

The survey showed that payroll costs have surged by 11%, equalling approximately £130 million in additional spending over the full year.

The majority of hospice expenditure is spent on staff salaries. As vital partners to the NHS, hospices recruit from the same pool of staff, meaning they aim to match NHS pay and conditions to attract and retain skilled staff to care for people at the end of their lives.

Adult hospices only receive on average around one third of their funding from the state, and children’s hospices only receive around one fifth. This means most of the funding for essential hospice services comes from fundraising and charitable donations.

Earlier this year, a report by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Hospice and End of Life Care found that despite a law passed in 2022, the way hospice services are commissioned in England is not fit for purpose. The cross party group of MPs found that services hospices provide for dying people and their families, and the support they provide to the health system, are at risk.

MPs will debate the topic of hospice funding in the House of Commons today, with a debate called by Peter Gibson MP looking at the post code lottery of hospice funding and how Integrated Care Boards can urgently address the funding for hospice-provided palliative and end of life care in their areas.

“These are the worst financial results for the hospice sector in around 20 years. Many hospices are spending more on their care than they receive in income. This is unsustainable and extremely worrying.

“Costs for hospices will keep rising, and without a new model for funding end of life care, the coming years could be devastating for hospice care services, particularly for those in economically challenged areas. Many are already considering halting vital services which will have devastating consequences for patients, their families, hospice staff, local communities and the NHS itself.

“With demand for end-of-life care in the UK guaranteed to grow due to our ageing population, we face an important choice as a society. Hospices are ready to meet this challenge, if only they are fully integrated and fairly funded as partners in our health and care system.

“We understand that public finances are tight, but we’d encourage local health boards to work with hospices in their areas to meet the needs of dying patients and their families. Working collaboratively with hospices is a win-win for patients, communities and the NHS.”

 

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